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Keith Packard's Xfree86 Fork Officially Started

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the fork-yeah dept.

X 578

Reivec writes "I was having a discussion with Keith Packard on IRC about the current developments in the XFree86 Saga and politics already discussed here earlier, and I learned many interesting things. The project has a new website, xwin, and things are getting underway. 'We're in the process of building community, from that we can construct a government. It's a hard process to construct a representative system from what we have now, so it will take a bit of time. Weeks, not months. --Keith'" Read on for some more details. Update: 04/13 03:30 GMT by T : Reader Khalid points to this informative interview with Packard at Linux Weekly News, too." The site is has only been up a day or so and there isn't a lot on it right now, but he would like to see a lot of community involvement on the site and many user submitted stories to get conversation rolling. A french site has already taken notice and posted some information on xwin as well. Since such a fork could make a large impact on many *NIX users, I felt the need to ask, 'assuming you had an active fork under development, how interchangable would you expect it to be with Xfree (assuming release builds). Do you think distros would be quick to change if it offered improvements? Or could they provide both and have the user choose upon installation?' Keith replied, 'Given that distros will have input into how it gets built, I expect they'd be interested in a version closer to what they need. And, given that RH and Debian maintainers are both actively encouraging changes, it's hard to see how they wouldn't want to follow. (or lead).' So if you have had any interest at all in the XFree86 development, this is definitely a community site you should take advantage of."

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unf (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719046)

OMG I GOT THE FIRST POST!!! YESSSS I AM TEH winnar!!! hahahahahajahhaha

LOOK

B===========D

THATS A PENIS!!! I hahahahahahahaha PENISS!!!

Re:unf (-1)

handybundler (232934) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719435)

I kick you! Get out of store!

fork this (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719048)

first post. timothy sucks

Re:fork this (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719227)

I just saw a TV commercial for Sirius satellite radio, and they were using "Bear Witness" from Dr. Octagonecologyst as the backing music. Usually I just have the TV on as background noise but this made me sit up and take notice. Good on them, if this won't make 'em profitable I don't know what will.

Uh oh. . . (0)

villain170 (664238) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719058)

We're in the process of building community, from that we can construct a government.

Sounds kinda totalitarian to me. . .

Re:Uh oh. . . (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719068)

hows this for totalitarian:

B===========D ((

B===((

B(( -- thats balls deep!

B======D ~~o ((

Re:Uh oh. . . (5, Interesting)

dspeyer (531333) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719106)

We're in the process of building community, from that we can construct a government.

Sounds kinda totalitarian to me. . .

Actually, it's strangely democratic. Seriously, the vast majority of successful Open Source projects have a single maintainer. X hasn't, and some might speculate that that's part of it's problem. I guess this has to be done to attract a large number of old X developers, but I really wonder if a benevolent dictator could make things work better (and if not, just use XFree86).

Re:Uh oh. . . (1)

villain170 (664238) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719112)

True. I was being just a bit facetious, as you probably could surmise. In any event, I think that any type of project needs the go-to-guy who is going to make decisions. Without it, you get a lot of hee-hawing about what to include, what to take out, etc.

Re:Uh oh. . . (1, Offtopic)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719169)

That's towel. Whatever you do, take care of your towel. Honestly, how did you ever last this long without one? I suppose you've lost your copy of the [bbc.co.uk] book [vogon.com] , too?

Re:Uh oh. . . (1)

villain170 (664238) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719214)

Honestly, how did you ever last this long without one?

42. [bbc.co.uk]

I suppose you've lost your copy of the book, too?

42. [bbc.co.uk]

For more info go here. [maffetore.com] Last line of the song says it all.

So, what now? (3, Interesting)

dspeyer (531333) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719081)

Wow, It's been a long time since something comparable happened. I guess the glibc/libc split is probably the closest. That settled out reasonably quickly, (though it left some freakish version numbers that still cause trouble). I suppose one can hope for something similar here.

X development has been somewhat slow, but it seems like the really big issue has always been drivers -- is there any way that new leadership can help get specs from manufacturers?

Editors: can we get Keith for a /. interview?

Oh, and, FSP? (first substantive post)

Re:So, what now? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719111)

X development has been somewhat slow, but it seems like the really big issue has always been drivers -- is there any way that new leadership can help get specs from manufacturers?

On previous discussions of the (then) possible fork right here on slashdot, I remember reading how ATI had sent the drivers to the XFree86 fellows. Months passed, and the drivers hadn't been incorporated yet (and if memory serves still aren't). And doesn't that just discourage manufacturers from supporting linux?

Re:So, what now? (3, Interesting)

BJH (11355) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719115)

The gcc/egcs split was more recent, and more acrimonious. Thankfully, that panned out in a way that benefited gcc, rather than hindering its development.

I just hope the same thing happens in this case. Keith Packard has been doing some very good work in XFree86 lately, but there have been accusations that he's too 'corporate-controlled' (I have no knowledge as to the truth of these accusations one way or the other).

Re:So, what now? (2, Interesting)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719288)

I have no idea either way ath the moment, but being "corporate-controlled" might just be a good thing for people who need video drivers. After all, video card manufacturers *are* corporations.

Re:So, what now? (5, Interesting)

Soko (17987) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719190)

X development has been somewhat slow, but it seems like the really big issue has always been drivers -- is there any way that new leadership can help get specs from manufacturers?

Getting drivers for X doesn't seem to be a problem, as long as those drivers are binary. I know, I know, Free Software, blah blah - however, if we're to turn these people to our side, we have to be sensitive to thier needs. In that vein, if xwin comes up with a clean, consistent API (perhaps even one that's linked into DRI or some other interface in kernel space) that all the video harware vendors can write to, without spelling out to thier competition how to trouce thier products in the next rev, they'll do much better I'm sure.

Editors: can we get Keith for a /. interview?

Please!

Soko

Re:So, what now? (3, Insightful)

nathanh (1214) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719391)

Getting drivers for X doesn't seem to be a problem, as long as those drivers are binary. I know, I know, Free Software, blah blah - however, if we're to turn these people to our side, we have to be sensitive to thier needs.

If we accept binary drivers then we haven't turned these people to our side. They have turned us to their side.

Re:So, what now? (3, Insightful)

Soko (17987) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719526)

How can we turn someone to our side who would be in essence - by opening up thier drivers - giving thier R&D budget to the competition?

Hey, I'm all for drivers provided in source too, would preffer that and I do say to hardware makers "Source, please!!!" every possible chance I get. The reality of doing business for these vendors dictates otherwise, however. IMHO, binary video drivers for OSS projects are still better than none at all. They'd still be - in a way - supporting Free Software, while keeping thier shareholders happy. 2 out of 3 ain't bad.

Soko

Re:So, what now? (1)

jonabbey (2498) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719440)

In that vein, if xwin comes up with a clean, consistent API (perhaps even one that's linked into DRI or some other interface in kernel space) that all the video harware vendors can write to, without spelling out to thier competition how to trouce thier products in the next rev, they'll do much better I'm sure.

Uh, hasn't this already been done, as of XFree86 4.0?

Re:So, what now? (0)

fussman (607784) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719244)

so is this one going to put the buttons in the right place?

Re:So, what now? (3, Informative)

Chops (168851) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719259)

I guess the glibc/libc split is probably the closest. That settled out reasonably quickly, (though it left some freakish version numbers that still cause trouble).

The libc/glibc difficulty wasn't, precisely speaking, a fork. Linux used to use its own C library ('Linux libc' or 'libc'), and after a while the Linux developers decided to switch to using the GNU C library ('GNU libc' or 'glibc'), and Linux libc was abandoned.

Why dont they allow donations? (1)

HanzoSan (251665) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719492)



Why dont they accept project specific donations? Hell even freenet accepts donations and Xfree the most important of all the current linux projects wont accept donations?!

Ok, so they complain theres not enough developers, development seems to go at snail pace, I see the project and only Carl and Keith are working on it, so while they work on that what happens to Xrender?

See whats going on here? We need more developer power to build Xfree at the same speed KDE and Gnome are being built. When freenet development moves at a faster pace than Xfree something is wrong here. Theres plenty of people willing to donate money, I'd donate money, I'm sure they'd get some money from Michael Robertson, why not allow money to be donated to specific projects?

I dont like donating money to Xfree and to find out it was used to work on something I dont care about at all. I want to use linux on the desktop, I dont care all that much about networking crap, I think its good enough as it is, I'd like to play games in Linux, I'd like Linux to advance in the areas needed to make it useful for more than just a server.

What needs to be done, is allow donations to be made to specific projects within Xfree development.

If most people want to donate money to something like Xinerama thats fine, but I feel as if the Xfree people arent even trying to develop any faster, as if they argue and fight on purpose to sabotage the project. Reminds me of Gnome and all their political garbage, thats why I use KDE now.,

Meanwhile... (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719082)


> We're in the process of building community, from that we can construct a government. It's a hard process to construct a representative system from what we have now, so it will take a bit of time. Weeks, not months.

Meanwhile, have patience with the looting and plundering...

Re:Meanwhile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719261)

and the hoiven maven...

Linked to today on OSNews (2, Interesting)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719099)

http://xfree86.org/pipermail/forum/2003-April/date .html#1 [xfree86.org]

Maybe we'll finally get a decent version of X instead of these whiny "don't criticize things even though we put this stuff out for the public" volunteers ignoring patches and stagnating things.

I know there are people who will reply saying nothing is wrong with X, or making long lists of excuses justifying things about X, or saying they've never had problems with X and that all these "sheep" who say X is bad are stupid and ignorant. I simply disagree; that is all. I'm not an experienced X developer. I'm just another user running X who has an opinion on it, whether these "volunteers" want to hear it or not.

xwin- Quartz (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719105)

It seems to me that if they are going to fork they might as well do something right from the ground up. They could build something like Quartz Extreme and then add the old version of X11 on top of it like Apple has done with OS X. Lots of possibilities!

Re:xwin- Quartz (4, Interesting)

Enahs (1606) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719140)

The DirectFB project has 2D going nicely, and is working on 3D. It's Linux-only at the moment, but that can change. :-D

Re: xwin- Quartz (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719185)


> The DirectFB project has 2D going nicely, and is working on 3D. It's Linux-only at the moment, but [...]

Ah, remember the good old days when Linux was the OS that you couldn't get stuff for?

Re:xwin- Quartz (5, Insightful)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719188)

This is so what we need. Starting over. Nobody wants to do it and hides behind the excuse of a veil of "volunteer work" that somehow implies nobody can criticize even if what you put out is inadequate.

Yes, people realize it's volunteer work. But there need to be results, or just keep everything on your private network and never publicly release anything for fear that people will criticize it. The time for endless projects with lofty goals and ideals but substandard output is over. We're in that phase where we need to just get shit finished and done, and get it done right the first time.

There will be the standard "So where is your project?" replies. They are no less ineffective and pointless than they have ever been. I'm simply stating an opinion, and as "volunteers" you can choose to disregard it. But that simply means the stagnation will continue, and criticisms like mine will continue.

There are entire open source 3D engines, kernels, raytracers, and more that are excellently designed and work well, but we still don't have a decent graphical user interface desktop solution for Linux.

"Either shit or get off the pot." - Randall, Clerks

Re:xwin- Quartz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719222)

And how much are you willing to pay for it?

The requisite hardware and software experience cost a *lot* of money, even in the currently hellish job market.

So, how about it, how many millions are you willing to donate? (US$1million ~ 8 people for one year)

Re:xwin- Quartz (2, Interesting)

Jameth (664111) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719231)

One: X is not a GUI. That's the field of KDE and GNOME. You can't blame X just because they suck.

Also, it doesn't necessarily need starting over: That'll just kill its potential on one front for the sake of more ease at reaching another. X has a lot of good features (don't bash remote Xwindows) and totally pulling out of it could screw up what support is already there. If it's fixable, it should be fixed, and I still think it is fixable.

Re:xwin- Quartz (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719486)

I refer to X the system. I know it's just a protocol; I can blame X for KDE and GNOME because they are forced to run on top of the XFree86 system. I have to run X->xlib->window manager->windowing library->desktop environment->various daemons just to get a desktop equivalent to Windows 95. It all feels cobbled together to me, and I get sluggish performance. Not to mention conflicting interfaces, dependencies, and so forth. You've all heard the standard complaints.

I say start over. X compatibility can be added on, but enough with this obsession over legacy. People complain about Windows being held back by this. There is always a point where it is too much and is stifling progress without forcing hacks and workarounds to avoid breaking something. It's like people are afraid of change or something. I guess the idea is just too ambitious, which is too bad, because Linux really needs this.

Remote X is not as widely used as it is endlessly hyped to be. If you want that, use the normal XFree86 project. Linux needs a real, innovative desktop environment. If you really need remote capabilities, can't it be added on or kept as a separate build option?

Re:xwin- Quartz (5, Insightful)

Man In Black (11263) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719537)

This is so what we need. Starting over. Nobody wants to do it and hides behind the excuse of a veil of "volunteer work" that somehow implies nobody can criticize even if what you put out is inadequate.

Don't forget that it's a freakin' buttload of work to do! X has been around for decades now... working to replace it isn't going to happen overnight, or probably even over the course of a year. Just look at Berlin (or whatever it's called now, I forget). It's been in the works for as long as I can remember, and as far as I know, the user base isn't exactly noteworthy.

Replacing X is like abandoning the Earth to terraform Mars just because cleaning up the Earth is too much work....

Re:xwin- Quartz-in my eyes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719514)

" It seems to me that if they are going to fork they might as well do something right from the ground up. They could build something like Quartz Extreme and then add the old version of X11 on top of it like Apple has done with OS X. Lots of possibilities!"

*rolls eyes* One of those.

Or we all could help out ol' Rasterman [slashdot.org] with E17 [enlightenment.org] and evas and be a step above Quartz Extreme, instead of "Chasing Tailights(TM)" [opensource.org] .

Four words (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719126)

Don't rock the boat!

Not a surprise. (5, Insightful)

mrsam (12205) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719131)

If I were to guess, several months ago, what fundamental OSS project would fork next, I would've picked XFree86. The signs were all there. Slow pace of development. Closed inner development core. Bugs left unfixed.

I'm about to upgrade my machines. The new release comes with XFree86 4.3.0. I'm already aware of some stuff that works in 4.2 but is broken in 4.3. There was no response to a couple of bug reports that I sent in last year, so it's not a surprise to me.

I'm waiting the obvious forthcomming trolling, from the peanut gallery, about the fork, and how its going to be fodder for the OSS lobby. I do not find it a problem. I see it as a natural evolution of things. It's just like 4-5 years ago, when RMS was dragging his feet on gcc development, egcs got forked, and eventually became the new gcc. Right now, gcc 3.2 is a damn good compiler, and I doubt that we'd have it, without that fork.

Re:Not a surprise. (3, Funny)

entrigant (233266) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719362)

I, think, it just, may be, possible, that you are, overusing, commas. ;)

Lose Some Weight You Fat Nasty Trolls (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719138)

Lose some weight clowns.

Piss Frost!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719146)

I like it! OOOHH It feels good! Can you feel the
prist fost?? Like it? OH YEAH!

Re:Piss Frost!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719211)

oh, yeah!! I like it a lot!!

OSNews... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719165)

OSNews has had so many of the articles recently posted before /. so why not read osnews?

Re:OSNews... (0, Offtopic)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719530)

Because on Slashdot, we only have to deal with Eugenia's whining once in a while, while it's all over OSnews.

What are their priorities? (3, Insightful)

rossz (67331) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719168)

I went to xwin.org but could not find any type of list of what they hope to achieve. Not a good start for a project. Perhaps they haven't quite got around to posting the list.

Here's what I'd like to see done:

1. Performance. There needs to be some serious performance boosting. Rip out a whole lot of fluff. Honestly, how often do you need remote xwindows? Yes, there is a use for it, but that should be a seperate build altogether.

2. Standardization. Flexibility is nice, but having every damn program do things differently is annoying. It's also a very bad thing if you are trying to break into the mainstream.

3. Easier configuration. It can be a real bitch to get xwindows running properly. Considering the huge amount of differing hardware in the wild, I'm not so sure it would be possible to simplify it too much. Oh, well.

My 2 cents.

Re:What are their priorities? (4, Insightful)

AtrN (87501) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719226)

how often do you need remote xwindows

Every day.

Re:What are their priorities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719239)

Then xfree is for you!

Re:What are their priorities? (0)

Miffe (592354) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719250)

how often do you need remote xwindows

Every day.


Yup.

Re:What are their priorities? (1)

shaka999 (335100) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719296)

Most people in a corporate environment will use remote windows.

Re:What are their priorities? (2, Insightful)

ShadeARG (306487) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719240)

Remote X is a lot faster than comparative solutions for Windows. VNC is horribly slow, almost unusable on a 100 Mbit/s LAN. It's alright if you drop your colors to 8bit or bgr233, but it is still horrid. X flies across my network at 24bpp and runs as smooth as the remote processor allows. Perhaps some decent compression would help here? I find remote X far too valuable to just throw out the window.

Re:What are their priorities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719449)

Remote X is completely inferior to Windows-based solutions like WTS and Citrix, both of which run fine over 56K modems and are significantly more secure.

Re:What are their priorities? (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719505)

Agreed. Remote X is very cool, but the cirtix ICA protocol is very, very quick, even on modems.

VNC is *okay* but it doesn't have the robustness of ICA.

Yea, I know, ICA isn't free; but that doesn't make it no good.

Re:What are their priorities? (1)

soulhuntre (52742) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719498)

Remote Desktop is extremely fast.

Re:What are their priorities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719248)

> Honestly, how often do you need remote xwindows?

Every single fucking day.

Network transparency does NOT actually contribute to percieved performance problems.

2.) This isn't an X problem it's a toolkit problem.

3.) The only valid point you have.

Re:What are their priorities? (3, Insightful)

Dunkalis (566394) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719251)

And here are some rebuttals to your points.

1. Performance. XFree is pretty fast for me, and while it could be faster, its still very usable. And I don't think network transparency really affects speed if you aren't using it, either. Locally, you're just using Unix sockets. It may add to the binary, and sit there and collect dust. I say that they add an option to disable network transparency, which is probably what you are talking about.

2. Standardization. This is not the point of X. Its a windowing system, not a toolkit or window manager/desktop. Everyone should use Qt, however :)

3. Easier Configuration. Most autoconfig tools like DrakXConf (or whatever it is) configures most hardware in a snap. And while the config files can be simplified, remember, its massive, complex and not some small project with two or three options. Its a freaking windowing system. Besides, how many times do you have to configure X, anyway? I just copy my XF86Config and replace it when I install a new distro.

Re:What are their priorities? (4, Informative)

arkanes (521690) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719340)

Some rebuttals to YOUR points:

1) This isn't about XFree being fast for you. And if it performs as well as (say) Windows 2k or XP on modern hardware, then you've spent alot of time tweaking X, and probably your kernel. X should be decent out of the box, and it isn't. "Works good enough" isn't something that I personally like settling for.

2) Standardization is absolutely a point of X. I don't know how you can think otherwise. One of the biggest objections to this port is the possible breaking of the X standards.

3) There is no reason whatsoever that XF86Config needs to be the monster that it is. A logical hierarchy of settings would be a good first step. Alot of the crap in XF86Config is handled by drivers using a standardized interface in Windows - this is a reasonable model to copy. That would help eliminate the need for every distro that's trying to be user-friendly to write it's own hardware detection program.

Re:What are their priorities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719380)

I don't understand why you are saying X is slow...it's not.

Maybe the applications you are using are slow, or their toolkits are slow, but XFree86 itself is not slow, nor is the X protocol inherently slow.

Re:What are their priorities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719437)

One of the points of the fork is to provide improved support for the toolkits and applications that people want to run. So quit being a reactionary.

Re:What are their priorities? (2, Insightful)

Kunta Kinte (323399) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719457)

1) This isn't about XFree being fast for you. And if it performs as well as (say) Windows 2k or XP on modern hardware, then you've spent alot of time tweaking X, and probably your kernel. X should be decent out of the box, and it isn't. "Works good enough" isn't something that I personally like settling for.

But what do you consider "decent". This is entirely subjective. Look, there are platforms out there that kick Windows butt very, very badly when it comes to performance. Some carry a premium ( Irix/MIPS ) others didn't ( BeOS ). MS still has a 90% monopoly.

How do you even know it's X is the problem?

2) Standardization is absolutely a point of X. I don't know how you can think otherwise. One of the biggest objections to this port is the possible breaking of the X standards.

You couldn't be further from the truth.

Bro, It ain't a standard till you have multiple well tested implemenations that inter-operate. Granted X has had this for years, this fork does nothing to hurt the X standard either.

part 3 went over my head. sorry.

Re:What are their priorities? (1)

lpontiac (173839) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719517)

Look, there are platforms out there that kick Windows butt very, very badly when it comes to performance. Some carry a premium ( Irix/MIPS )

And on the whole X speed thing, I'd like to point out that the GUI on SGI's Irix machines is X11, and it's certainly fast enough. A couple of years back I remember a day when I used a then-ancient SGI Indy (133mhz cpu) running X11, a Sun workstation running X11, and a Win2K box in the space of a few hours, and the X11 boxes wiped the floor with Win2K on GUI responsiveness.

Re:What are their priorities? (1)

Webmonger (24302) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719271)

1. If you're sure that remote xwindows slows down local xwindows, what's your data?

2. This is not xwindows' job. Gui differences are at a higher level than X.

3. I agree with you here.

#1 open source promotion worldwide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719359)

A simple to install windows 32 installation image.

Yes, bitch all you want, linux /.'ers, but many many companies spend tens of thousands paying for Exceed licenses for win32 platforms.

the usual misconceptions (5, Informative)

g4dget (579145) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719410)

1. Performance. There needs to be some serious performance boosting. Rip out a whole lot of fluff. Honestly, how often do you need remote xwindows? Yes, there is a use for it, but that should be a seperate build altogether.

There is no "fluff" there. X11 runs as a separate user-mode process from applications. That means that commands to it need to go from the user process to the display process. X11 uses an asynchronous protocol and a mixture of shared memory and UNIX-domain sockets. And for games and other applications, there is DRI.

It happens to be the case that the X11 protocol and semantics are well-enough defined that the same protocol works over fast networks, but you don't pay anything for that.

Macintosh (as far a I can tell) works the same way: a display server, user mode applicatins, and some IPC mechanism connecting them. The only reason remote display for the Mac doesn't work like X11 is because it lacks some high-level primitives.

Windows used to start out as a frame buffer library, but it, too, works pretty much like X11 these days: asynchronous communications between user-mode processes and a display server running in a separate address space. The only thing NT/XP do differently is that the display server runs i the kernel. You could put an X11 server in the kernel, but it probably wouldn't make a big difference in performance (and it would be a headache).

When a particular X11 implementatin is slow, it's usually because of bad drivers or bad configuration. With comparable drivers, X11 performance is top-notch--usually better than Macintosh and comparable to Windows. And many X11 applications are slow or inefficient because their developers assumed they were programming a frame buffer--an assumption that is wrong on all major GUI platforms these days.

In short, this "X is slow because of network transparency" is wrong in multiple ways. First, X11 is not slow compared to other popular windowing systems. Second, nobody has ever been able to describe a way in which X11 could be made faster by choosing a different IPC mechanism. People who criticize X11 for using IPC usually assume incorrectly that other systems don't use IPC, but they do.

2. Standardization. Flexibility is nice, but having every damn program do things differently is annoying. It's also a very bad thing if you are trying to break into the mainstream.

X11 is standardized. What is not standardized is GUI environments and toolkits. But there is a reason for that: people are still figuring it out. It's software evolution in action. And it's not like Windows or Macintosh have figured that one out either: on Windows, people use dozens of different toolkits, several of which come from Microsoft Similarly for Macintosh. Gnome and KDE are making an effort to interoperate, and that's all you can ask for.

Also, there are plenty of programs that need to "o things differently". X11 is not just a desktop window system, it's used for scientific and engineering applications, customer terminals, ATMs, banking workstations, embedded systems, and lots of other applications. Those environments should not look like a regular desktop.

3. Easier configuration. It can be a real bitch to get xwindows running properly. Considering the huge amount of differing hardware in the wild, I'm not so sure it would be possible to simplify it too much. Oh, well.

I think people are doing as well as they can, given limited information from manufacturers.

But because X11 is standardized, you can always buy a commercially supported X11 server. Those usually run very well on the latest hardware. If you are using XFree86, you are using something that's both free and experimental.

As far as I can tell, "the split" is over none of these issues. Both branches will remain network transparent window systems, they will remain compatible, and they will continue not to force toolkits or desktop software on users. If they tried to, they would cease being X11 implementations. What Keith probably will do is accelerate bug fixing and bringing extensions into the X11 server. And that's what really matters.

Re:the usual misconceptions (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719422)

yeah, I loved the "rip ot the fluff" comment. Like there has been this pile of un-needed code that nobody ever noticed.
"Hey guys, look at this, there has been flight similator code in here!"

Re:What are their priorities? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719451)

I disagree here. I think what needs to be done is simply to clean-up the mess that is XFree86.

Look at the nasty way that remote X works, just for an example. To tunnel remote X over some other protocol, you have to do some serious programming to support it's unusual methods. Meanwhile, with something like VNC, or Citrix, all you have to do is tunnel a single port. Also, it would be nice if X had a higher-level interface to it, so that you don't have to, essentially, send a video over te network to display a remote desktop/window.

That's just an example. There's plenty of others, such as having to just about build the entire server to compile a new videocard driver, how stupid XDM acts, (hmm, X didn't start-up the last 10 times, let's keep trying.) the strange configuration (not just /etc/X11/XF86Config, but also, needing to manually edit ~/.xsession/~/.xinitrc, and having no interface to it). xf86cfg isn't fully working most of the time I use it, typically not showing all the videocard choices, meaning I have to manually edit the config file... etc.

1. Yeah, the standard x11 output mode is a bit slow, and CPU intensive. It would be nice it X could figure out how best to accelerate standard apps...

2. Screw that! The reason I like Unix is because I can have my system just the way I like it. I don't want to be forced to have my "File" menu on the upper-left side of the window. Maybe some other arrangement is better. Don't like how your apps look? Change them to whatever suits you. Don't complain that everyone should be forced to have the standard interface that you happen to like.

3. xf86cfg -textmode.

Re:What are their priorities? (4, Insightful)

lewp (95638) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719510)

Honestly, how often do you need remote xwindows?

Well, I'm typing this response courtesy of a remote browser window. I'd say less than half my applications are running on the machine I'm sitting in front of at any given moment, for various different reasons.

The fact is, myself and the majority of people I know who have any sort of real UNIX desktop experience find ways to use remote X windows every day.

We shouldn't lose functionality or have to jump through hoops just because someone decided without any sort of numbers to back it up that networking is X's "problem". Nor should we be inconvenienced when a bunch of whiny new Mandrake users buy into that bullshit and decide immediately that their machine isn't snappy enough.

Bottom line: Any problems you have with the speed of your X desktop almost certainly have nothing to do with X's ability to spit out pixels. Until someone can disagree with that and provide numbers to indicate that X's networking is to blame, there's no compelling reason to rip it out.

I'm not trying to pick on you individually, I'm just tired of seeing what appears to be completely groundless nonsense posted as if it's obvious fact.

Re:What are their priorities? (1)

msoltysiak (660677) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719534)

You're sorta right....but... Are you paying the developers for your supposed annoyances? serious! when did you pay those developers for their work? spare me "free software" and other bullshit like it. did you pay for your bitching?

Things I'd like to see (-1, Offtopic)

DarkVein (5418) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719184)

  1. XHTML 1.1 website, without using tables for layout. (try glish [glish.com] for CSS techniques; more robust, lighter on bandwidth, more semantic)
  2. Votes using Condorcet's Method [wikipedia.org] .
  3. More permanant URLs: Cool URIs don't change [w3.org] , URLS! URLS! URLS! [alistapart.com] , Slash Forward [alistapart.com] ("http://xwin.org/index.php?topic=GeekLog" == bad)

Basically, everything webby that Slashdot promotes but doesn't follow.

Re:Things I'd like to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719276)

Yes, waste lots of time on the website, and then just get around to working on that XFree86 fork whenever you have time. That would be great.

Self-important enough? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719416)

Like anyone cares what you'd "like to see"

Display Postscript (1)

sgi_oh_too (657380) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719199)

Why not re-implement display postscript? No need to be original. Display Postscript was a great idea, and obviously it is viable and amazing. Just my two cents.

Re:Display Postscript (1)

sgi_oh_too (657380) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719221)

oop, never mind ... i just read the site project list ... Xr and Xc libraries ... my bad

No thanks (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719289)

It's slow and it has state. And you can lock up your server by sending it malformed code. It's good for text layout, but for doing interesting modern things it's terrible (3d stuff).

My vote is that we make all of the drawing layers be extensions (including the first one), then transition everyone to an OpenGL drawing layer. It's not clear how well that will work for current generation of small devices though.

Let the debate begin. (2, Insightful)

fava (513118) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719212)

Ok, so lets start the most important part of any open source project.

The licencing debate.

Is it going to stay X11 or will it be moving to another licence?

Re:Let the debate begin. (3, Insightful)

Ded Bob (67043) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719257)

My bet is on staying X11. This would allow them to interact with XFree86 as well as the OpenGroup. Changing the license would only add a wall between the groups.

BTW, vi is better. Emacs sucks. :)

what about VNC (3, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719219)

I'm not X-savy enough to say anything intelligent about what direction X should go. But I can make an observation about VNC and X.

In my experience there are different situations that one wants an X-terminal. One is where one has a highly networked user space and one wants a high fidelity graphical experience no matter where the computer you are executing on is physically located as long as its a high bandwidth connection.

In my owm personal world of some 600+ linux servers spread around the united states, I dont need nor can a support a decent X graphics experience. In fact W is intolerable even on many local connections. Instead I find I get much better performance using VNC as my remote graphical interface. Its fidelity is slightly lower but its lightning fast and works in all sorts of situations where X is painful (like double firewalls and high security environments). The crititical thing is the response time of the mouse when doing things like menu pulldowns, and for example draging a 3-D rendered object to rotate it on the screen.

I dont know why but X is horrible for thos operations. while VNC is fluid. VNC is also more stable when connections close down unexpectedly or even expectedly (like I put my local computer to sleep).

so my feeling is the existing X works damn well for high bandwidth connections and local stuff. if there's an argument over its direction its arguing over minutia. what really need to happen is to evolve an X for low bandwidth connections. In theory X should be much faster than VNC since it should be able to send less information than VNC has to. but currently its not up to par

Re:what about VNC (1)

Chops (168851) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719272)

Check out lbxproxy [xfree86.org] for low-bandwidth or high-latency links.

Re:what about VNC (1)

ShadeARG (306487) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719294)

I would like to know what VNC implementation you are using. I have found that X (at 24bpp) runs 10 fold faster than VNC (at 8bit or bgr233) on a good day. Not to mention that VNC doesn't display transparency overlays. What you see locally in X you see remotely in X.

they're both needed. (5, Informative)

Kunta Kinte (323399) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719398)

VNC, Microsoft terminal server, Citrix's framebuffer based remote desktop approach are very efficient on the network, which is the slowest part of getting a remote desktop to a user's computer. Their frames are rendered, compressed and encrypted then sent. The algorithm maybe optimized and only send changes/deltas to the frame.

This solution is terrible in the thin client scenario. And that may be one of the reasons that thin clients haven't taken off in places were using that approach would be a no-brainer ( call centers, college labs, etc. ). Large number of identical machines that wouldn't need maintaince other than to reinstall the OS and the remote desktop application.

Framebuffer solutions place all the rendering, font handling, *everything* on the 'remote server' or 'RAS' ( you pick ).

If you get a chance to observe a citrix or terminal services rollout, ask for the specs on their servers, and how many users can fit on those. It's almost not worth it.

XWindows is much, much easier on the 'client' Without even trying, as much developers aren't taking into consideration X protocol Server/client roundtrip issues when designing/coding.

If you just what to get to your computer, a framebuffer may perform slightly better than X, though X would still do a good job. But in the case of a large number of users connecting to a single server, each with their own session, X is *much* better.

Re:they're both needed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719465)

Heh -- the hardware costs for WTS and especially Citrix are a drop in the bucket compared to the software costs. The ridiclous licencing are the main reason that thin-client hasn't caught on in the Windows world.

Re:what about VNC (3, Informative)

viperblades (576174) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719404)

Try X forwarding with ssh. It;'s very fast. ssh -C -X 127.0.0.1 xterm

Yay (1)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719225)

Excellent. Now I will have two graphical servers with which to become infuriated with when my Nvidia drivers won't load right. Seriously though, in the world of open source development, I find it advantageous to have multiple projects going, as each development team will have differing visions and thus produce products that have their own unique pros and cons.

It sure beats having but one graphical server to choose from. It also beats having a bloated GUI tied into the kernel that you have no control over.

In any event, it would make me feel better to have one solid project that is completely backed by a large financier like IBM, which focuses not only on keeping the transparent and distributive power of XFree86, but also aims to create a single "platform", if you will, that video card manufacturers and game developers can write for.

Re:Yay (1)

Libor Vanek (248963) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719270)

If you read the interview then you'll see that Keith strongly force binary compatibility for X protocol AND binary video drivers.

Re:Yay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719304)

Oh, I did in fact read the article in question (from a link on another site before seeing it mentioned here). The first paragraph of my post contained something known as "scarcasm". =)

He he (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719235)

Keith: 'I've become deeply involved in KDE, Gnome, Mozilla and many other minor X projects.'

Wow. I wonder what he considers major ones ;-).

unification (1)

will_urbanski (634501) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719268)

x86 needs to be unified-- splitting it wont get anyone anywhere.

thats not true. the post above mentioned GCC. (0)

zymano (581466) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719321)

Look at Mozilla. That needed a BIG fork. Maybe you could call that a fork too because they will now go with a faster leaner browser.

Forks are good because they create competition/Darwinian evolution.

You just don't want to many where everyone goes at it alone and nothing gets done.

Re:unification (4, Insightful)

Soko (17987) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719438)

x86 needs to be unified-- splitting it wont get anyone anywhere.

Allow me a small story here friend, as to why I don't agree with your stance.

Once upon a time, there were 2 racing teams. Once was rich, one was poor. The rich one was dedicated to winning at all costs, and kept all of thier knowlege and glory to themselves. The poor one wanted to win too, but only really wanted to make a car go fast - winning was secondary. They would share what they learned and spread it around to all of the racers - including the Rich team.

When the rich team came into the racing league, they were slow. But they learned from the Poor team, and took what they learned and raced hard all of the time. They built newer cars, faster cars, better cars than they had. The poor team was too interested in maintaining the status quo - they would only tweak what they had, never really delving too deeeply into the whole package they raced. They started to notice the the Rich Team was gaining on them way to fast, and got worried.

Eventually, one of the members of the poor team suggested that they scrap some of thier methods - more or less gut the car and re-build it, eliminating some of the old weight it was carying around, and integrate newer, better technologies. The rest of the team scoffed at this - "We're doing rather well with what we have now. We don't need any distractions while we're dealing with the Rich Team - be quiet, please." The team member who spoke up realised that dealing with the Rich Team was in reality the distraction, not his wanting to re-build the car so it was at it's best and fastest. Winning was secondary (though he really wanted to win, too). So, he quit the team, and trundled off with one of the Poor teams backup cars, and proceeded to gut it.

When he showed up on the first race day, he was hardly noticed. His car sputtered, it smoked, it didn't run right. Next race he was better. He gained new insights into how to make the poor teams cars work better. He got faster and more reliable still. By the 7th race, he was doing faster laps in an un-painted car than the Poor team was in thier tried and true one. The leader of the poor team - who was in the fight of his life with the Rich Team by this time - came over and asked how he got so fast so quick. The leader was shown what was done to the car - and he learned too. "Hey, we can do this - and quickly, can't we? BTW, if you just adjusted this over here this way..."

With thier passion for going fast renewed, and thier focus restored to where it should be, the Poor team was re-joined, having been made stronger for the split. The Rich team was now the team quaking in fear...

So, friend, IMHO sometimes splitting resources is a good thing in the end. It's all about perspective.

Soko

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Funny)

smoondog (85133) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719269)

X forks You!

(Sorry)

-Sean

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719297)

Ouch! That hurts

On a split being good (4, Interesting)

bogie (31020) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719283)

I couldn't think of a more capable person to do this.

I was reading this paper that Keith Packard and James Gettys wrote and its plain he has a clue and are really interested in concentrating on performance.

http://keithp.com/~keithp/talks/usenix2003/html/ ne t.html

The paper deals with network performance, but it was the "lets be practical "methodology that impressed me and it seems they are really on the road it finding solutions for speeding up X and also in many cases the popular X toolkits themselves.

Not to mention the "cool" stuff that Keith has done.

This fork isn't bad, its about time.

I say it now: XFree is Dead (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719287)

As far as I'm concerned, all the innovation and things that were pushing XFree forward were ALL done by Keith Packard. With him gone all the XFree team can do is go back to whining nobody at ATI will write drivers for them.

I predict in a years' time XFree will be pretty much stagnant at the codebase it's at now, but will have a couple of releases just to make themselves look like they're still relevant. Meanwhile we'll all be fighting with instructions in how to strip out XFree and replace it with KP's xwin, and the linux desktop movement becomes the big loser. Sigh.

And in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719291)

And, in other news, no one cares.

X is still 'X', no matter what you forking do with it.

We need to upgrade to 'Y' ASAP.

Go Keith go! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719322)

Go Keith Go!

A man has to do what a man has to do, and maybe .. just maybe it is fork a large project.

how far will it go? (1, Flamebait)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719346)

will this really help?

X is really quite ancient and beastly, and has truly become quite bloated. I think that we are long overdue for a REAL overhaul of x and I don't see a mere fork of the codebase as having the potential to fix some of the root problems in the architecture. x just isn't built to deal with modern hardware in an efficient way, and has a very large footprint. moreover it is difficult to deal with programmatically.

more power to anyone willing to take a stab at fixing some of the architectural weaknesses of X the core team has largely been unwilling to address. I just don't know how far it will go.

Re:how far will it go? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719522)

I agree. The first thing if a fork realized is to trim down all the old leftover before X11R4. Yes, there are a lot of old craft left from the old day (20+ years). Real old program might not run on new Xwhatever, but people should use new program that is least than 20+ years old or they should not use Xwhatever or they should use open sourced software next time they buy a piece of software.

Yes, it will waste some time on put in new features into the Xwhatever, but hey, we have already waited for more than 10+ years to see a change. 1 more year will not make a much different.

Will the Xwhatever call XFreedom86? or XXP? XNT? XNX-> XNX's Next-generation X.

or XFast86 - A fast X with faster developement.

XFUD86

I wonder if XCB and XCL are related to this projec (4, Informative)

Sleeper (7713) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719400)

I noticed that both XCB and XCL [pdx.edu] and xwin are sponsored by Portland State University.


For those who are too lazy to click on the link XCB stands for X C bindings and meant to replace Xlib. The main point is to make X clients to talk to X server asynchronously (unlike Xlib) which will beinifit the speed. For compatibility they still keep XCL (Xlib compatibility layer). In fact these projects created quite an excitement [sourceforge.net] on enlightment-devel mailing list. Well, at least Rasterman [rasterman.com] is excited.


Overall, i think, this might turn out very poisitive for all of us.

Re:I wonder if XCB and XCL are related to this pro (1)

Sleeper (7713) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719413)

I am probably wrong about projects' sponsorship. Both websites are provided by Portland State University.

GOATSE ANNOUNCES FORK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719430)

Goatse has forked.. now we have Goatse and Slashgoat. Slashgoat (with tattos too!) is as follows:

*_s_l_a_s_d_o_t_s_u_c_k_s_*_s_l_a_s_h_d_o_t_s_u_x_
s_/_____\____REPORT___\___DUPES____/____\_______s_ _
l|___I___|_____________\__________|______|______l_ _
a|__LOVE_`.__Call_1-800-SUCKTACO__|_______:_____a_ _
s`___M____|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
h_\__I____|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____h_ _
d__\__C___\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____d_ _
o___\__H___\_-~____________________~-_\____|____o_ _
t____\__A____\_________.--------.______\|__|____t_ _
s______\__E__\______//_________(_(__C__\___|____s_ _
u_______\__L.__C____)_________(_(___C___|__/____u_ _
c_______/\_|___C_____)/__/.__\_(____C___|_/_____c_ _
k______/_/\|___C_____)|_MODS_|__(___C___/__\____k_ _
s_____|___(____C_____)\_HERE_/__//__C_/_____\___s_ _
*_____|____\__C_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__*_ _
s____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__s_ _
l____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_l_ _
a___|______R_______/____|_____|__\____________|_a_ _
s___|___F__E______|____/___/.__\__\____F__S___|_s_ _
d___|___U__A___/_/____|__SERVER_|__\____U_P____|d_ _
o___|__C___L__/_/______\__/\___/____|___C__E___|o_ _
t__|___K__N__/_/________|____|_______|__k__E___|t_ _
s__|______E___|_________|____|_______|_____C___|s_ _
u__|______W__|__________|____|_______|_____H___|u_ _
x__|______S__|__________|____|_______|_________|x_ _
*_s_l_a_s_d_o_t_s_u_c_k_s_*_s_l_a_s_h_d_o_t_s_u_x_

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)

Doesn't sound like a fork yet (3, Informative)

starseeker (141897) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719432)

Did anyone read the transcripts? It sounds like they are still attempting to work with the current X leaders. Granted I don't see much hope, but this isn't an official fork yet. It's the preliminary steps to see if they need one.

Hopefully, whatever happens, X development will improve. We'll see if it winds up being something other than XFree86 in the end.

How can we donate money to individual projects? (1)

HanzoSan (251665) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719462)


I want to donate maybe $30, but I want to donate my money to a specific projects development, in a democractic way.

I think if X team is going to accept donations, it should work something like how transgaming works. Can you set it up so certain projects can accept donations, like maybe Xrender, and our money gets used to hire full time programmers to work on it?

With donation money, there wont be such a problem finding developers.

XFree vs. XPensive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5719506)

So what's the deal here? How much of this is a licensing-preferences thing, vs. an ego thing, vs. a worked-together-for-too-long thing?

I will pray that... (2, Insightful)

bahwi (43111) | more than 11 years ago | (#5719536)

this doesn't turn into a bunch of bureacratic stuff. I think the project can go somewhere, but when he demands 'government' instantly, that is a bit much. It really is a huge project, I understand, but so is Mozilla, and they should take more from Moz's example than the example of countries.

Just my thoughts, best of luck to the project!
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